Thursday, September 4, 2014

First day of school...

I always hated the first day of school... not much has changed now that I am a father. It just means that they are another year older and closer to being a grown up.

Every once in a while it would be nice to go back to when they were all this young and innocent again:

Yesterday Big T played in the empty laundry basket for over an hour... just waiting for his siblings to come home from the first day of school so he'd have someone to play Ninja Turtles with.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I can't wait until the next temper tantrum and I'm called the Worst. Dad. Ever!

I'm going to put this on:

I hope I can keep a straight face! 

It's that time again!

I swear it gets released earlier every year,  kind of like  Christmas Creep...   Only with beer! Not that I'm complaining.

A special thanks to my BIL for the heads up where I could find case to hold me over until the distributor can make good on a 1/2 barrel of malty goodness...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

File under: A good read

I don't have as much time as I would like to read these days, so I tend to be selective when choosing a book. I prefer non-fictions that chronicle the brutal extremes that humans will go through (sometimes at the hands of another human) and survive, some examples:

Tears in the Darkness The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
Gulag: A History

My most recent book that I finished:

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

This is the story of the life of Louis Zamperini, the 1936 Olympian and WWII Air Corp veteran that not only survived his B-24 crashing into the Pacific he then floated in a (very small) life raft for 33 days (w/ 2 other men) only to be captured and interned at and some the worst Japanese POW camps... in short the story of a true American Hero.    



Monday, August 11, 2014


Uncle Jay makes a very good observation regarding Martinis. Well, that explains why I like them so much...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hard work will pay off, even for an 11 year old.

No one is entitled to anything in this world.  From my (limited) experience the road to success is paved by putting in your time, working hard and eventually it will pay off and good things will happen. I have tried to instill this mindset into my children, but they are still a little young (and thus impatient) to understand which often lead to me becoming frustrated. 

However it would appear that I have made a break though,  recently #1 was rewarded for a couple of years of his hard work and dedication and I couldn't be more proud of him.

He absolutely loves to play baseball but it quickly came apparent when he was younger that he didn't have a lot of natural talent and would need a bit of help. That doesn't stop him from wanting to play.

Then the questions came at me  :
How do I throw the ball father? I told him to practice more and we worked on building arm strength and improving technique.
How do I hit the ball further? His grandfather gave him some pointers and we worked on a batting tee.
Why can't I hit a home run? I told him, not everyone hits home runs. You are faster than most boys out there, you can out run the play to first, hustle!*  We started studying Jeter and focused on making good solid contact with ball.  Then we worked smart base running and stealing. He the realized how much fun it is to steal. 

Then he started to work on the nuances of the game and going to baseball camps. There he learned how to anticipate where the play is going, always move when the ball is in play, no one should be standing still. Where do you go if the ball is hit ______? Remember, listen to the coaches. That was key, he has been very lucky to have had coaches that continuously built him up and supported him. No screaming or yelling, just encouragement. 

What has occurred over the past 4-5 years is now what he lacked in natural talent he more than made up for in passion, hard work, hustle and all out heart for the game. He knows where he should be and gives 110% on every play. We've been told over the years by many of his coaches/managers that NO ONE plays harder and smiles the entire time. They wish they had bench full of players like him. I kind of sit back in amazement and pride when they speak of him so well, because its all him. I'm just the guy in the back yard helping him practice, he's the one out there making it all happen. 

Anyway, this year was his first year in the "Majors" division of little league and he was one of the youngest on his team. Spring training opened April 1st and he had been going non stop until mid June when a non-call by the umpire derailed the perfect season.  By all accounts the season was a good one and he was already looking forward to next year. Then we got word that he was selected for the town's 11 and Under Travel All Stars. They wanted him on the team because of how hard he plays and that he goes all out.  It was for one tournament against other local town, so his baseball season would continue for a few more weeks with no complaints from him.

All Star's practice began after the regular season and he had been practicing almost everyday until the start of the tournament. Even in the heat and humidity, he didn't complain and eagerly went to practice every night.

One night on the way home from practice he asked if he could play in a Fall league. This wasn't new topic of conversation, he asks all the time.  I reminded him that our town doesn't have a fall league, so he would have to be invited to play on a travel team in order to play in the fall. I asked, "don't you want to play soccer?" he responded, " No, I'd rather play baseball."  I told him after the tournament was over, I'd talk to his All Star coach and see if he knew of any team that might want to have him on their team.   In the meantime I told him to just keep playing hard and have fun, because he can't play little league baseball forever.

When the tournament finally started he went out and hustled on every play (as usual).  He started in left field for a couple of games and then was moved into second. He made few nice catches and even had a couple of hits. Unfortunately they lost their game on Saturday and were eliminated. After the post game talk was over and team photos were taken I met with the coaches and thanked them for doing such a great job with the boys and headed out of the dugout.

It was too chaotic to discuss the travel team right now, so I figured I'd follow up with them later in the week. I walked out of the dugout and was about to join the rest of my clan when I hear, "Hey Mr. Coop!" I turn and its one of the coaches.  " Do you have a minute? " No problem, I head back to the field where I am suddenly surrounded by all of the coaches and assistants from the All-Stars.

Coach: We were wondering, do you think #1 would have an interest in playing for a travel team?
YT: Really?
Coach: yeah, we play an in event in August then play or practice 2 days a week in the fall. Its pretty much a lot of the same kids he's been playing with the past couple of weeks.
YT: Its funny you should ask, he mentioned it the other day and I said I would ask but I was concerned that the travel team may not have room right now.
Coach: We always have room for someone like him! He's a good player, plays hard and is a good teammate.
YT: (at this point I could barely contain my excitement) I'll ask him, but I don't think there will be much of a conversation.

There were some other comments and explanations by the coaches, but I was so elated that most of them didn't even register. 

I walked over to #1 and give him the details...2 Minutes later he  runs up to his coach (beaming) and says:
Yes, I 'd like to play travel baseball and Thank You!
Coach: No buddy, Thank you and welcome to the team.

As he was with the coach, the wife turns to me and tells me that she has never seen a happier look on MY face. I was so proud of him, it was something that he's wanted very badly... and now it was his. HE had earned it on his own.

At that moment all of conversations he and I had to and from games/practices came flooding back to me, about why the ump called this strike and not a ball or why a certain player doesn't listen to the coaches. I remember telling him to not worry about things he couldn't control and reiterated over and over again "Just go out do your best, focus on your game, play hard, hustle on every play, never quit, do what the coaches tell you and good things will happen."

I guess was I right...

He comes running back and gives his mom a hug then tells her. "I am sooo quitting soccer!". What followed was hours of unbridled excitement** from an 11 year realizing that his dream had come true thanks to his hard work. I told him on  the way home, " Now the fun really starts" and he just smiled from ear to ear!

* He eventually hit a home run... it was last year and it was an inside the park grand slam that he got from using he speed around the bases.
** The excitement fizzled a few hours later when he remembered that the next day he was leaving to spend a week in the woods without his family for the first time at boy scout camp... but that's another post. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I thought I was crazy...

Driving home yesterday I came across a Prius in traffic in front of me... The license plate caught my eye.
Not sure if you can read it, but its says: Joy of Six

I thought "Wow, I thought I was crazy for having  4... I wonder how do they fit them in a Prius?"

Then I notice the back window had college stickers. Well I guess there's no concern to fit in them in the family taxi as they are all in or graduated from college, which explains WHY they are driving  Prius.

Then I took a closer look at the schools:

Holy Cross
Holy Cross

So I ran the numbers in my head real quick, $30-40k per year x 4 years x 6 = blink, blink...
Holy Crap! That's close to a million dollars in College Tuition bills!

Checked the web:
Nova ~$42K/year
GT~ $40K/year
HC~ $58k/year!!!

I figured by the time my circus hits the college ranks, I won't need a car... I'll just set up a cot in my office as I'll be working non-stop.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

umm... Thank you?

I stopped in the mall during lunch to pick a few items for #1's scout trip next week.
I am at the check out and a woman in her sixties is at the register. She says something that I missed and I asked her to repeat it.

Cashier: I like your cologne
Yours truly: oh, thank you...

I didn't have the heart to tell her Degree for men.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Overheard at the pool

We spent the afternoon at my parents community pool yesterday.

 #2 is in the deep end and rather than use the ladder he decides to struggle and pull himself out over the side of the pool.  As he's half way out of the water I call out from across the pool: 

Yours truly: Why don't you just climb up the ladder that is right next to you rather than struggle?

#2: Because I'm a man!

Trailer woes...

It's a lovely July Saturday, we are heading to the shore to drop the boat in the water and spend some time on the boardwalk. The wife made a detour for coffee and I pulled the truck over to check the bearings after a short stint (~5miles). They all checked fine, including the recently repaired wheel and all were cool to the touch...I get the coffee from the wife and give her a brief description of signs of trouble she should look for on the trailer when she’s following me. Smoking, wheel wobble, etc  and we head back down the highway.

We get about another 7 miles down the road, I’m constantly checking the side mirrors and everything is good.

My Cell Phone ringtone lets me know its my wife.

Yours truly: Hey, What’s up?
Wife: You just lost something off the trailer!
YT: What?
W: (full blown panic) I don’t know, OMG! pull over!! Its smoking!
YT: OK, I’m Pulling over...

By the time I get the truck slowed down and find a suitable and level spot along the road I had traveled about two tenths of a mile from when I got the phone call...

I get out and start walking back to the boat trailer to inspect the recently repair bearing, it looks fine. I look up and the wife is running toward me and pointing to the other side of the trailer.

Well, there’s your problem right there..

We’re not going any where soon without professional assistance.

My Boat recovery insurance has a trailer coverage, so I call them. Give them the necessary info and wait for a call back with an ETA from the towing company... The closest repair shop is a mile down the road.  (damn thing couldn’t have held out for another 5280 feet?)   I know it shouldn’t take long once the tow truck gets here. An hour later I come to find out because its a holiday weekend there is no one around that is available to assist me. Well, there was one company, however, they wanted $1000.00. My coverage is up to $300.00 so I’m not paying $700.00 to go less than a mile. They then informed me that they found someone that could help me first thing in the morning (Sunday). okayfine we’ll coordinate with them in morning. I hang up and call the local authorities to let them know that I would be leaving the trailer over night. notsofastcap’n, some one will be right there. Eventually a patrol car shows up and the officer tells me they can’t allow the trailer to stay on the side of the road.

At this point I’m getting an all too familiar feeling of “Rock, Hard place meet Coop”.  

I bring him to inspect the trailer and he realizes its not going anywhere in its current condition either...I explain I can’t find anyone, my wife even tried AAA and they don’t handle boats on trailers. No problem he says, he will call their heavy duty towing company (HDTC) I immediately thought: damn, that sounds expensive. I have no choice now, so I’m preparing myself for the $1000 tow that I just turned down. Although I'm thinking "wait, the price just went up... "

Officer gives HDTC the specifics and the towing distance and asks how much...  he winces and turns to me and says: $300.00, I thought I was at an Auction and said “SOLD!” in a nano second. I’ll get that back from my boat tow company.

I’m back to waiting on the side of the road for the HDTC to arrive and over the course of the next hour plus a few recurring thoughts passed through my head:

1.  I wonder if anyone I know has passed me by. I barely got out town and was sitting on a major State Highway on a gorgeous Saturday. Surely someone I knew had to pass me on the way to /from the big box stores only 4 miles down the road. 
2. How big is this tow truck going to be?
3. How the heck are they going to tow this trailer?

To pass the time I emptied the boat of anything important as I knew it would not be in secure location and the business wouldn’t be open until Monday. Then I prepared to take it off hitch when the tow truck arrived.

Question 2 was answered when this arrived:

OK, that will fit the boat trailer, but how are they getting it on the top of it, winch? I turn to the HDTC guy and ask, you want me to disconnect from the boat now?


Yeah that answers question #3 and guess who had the pleasure of driving the the truck up the flat bed?

This Guy!

My view:

Longest  mile of my life.  

Then the fun really started when I got to back it off, along the same highway and struggle with the trailer that was sliding into the highway because the wheel finally fell off as I was backing the trailer off the flat bed. However no one was heeding the boat entering their lane or the HDTC driver waving cars out of the lane... fun times,

I managed to get it off the truck and I pulled it into the lot without killing anyone. I secured the trailer best I could and headed home...

I walked into the house and thank my wife for all of her assistance and support and then our kids for being on their best behavior during a long and difficult afternoon. I then went into to the sun room and made myself a VERY strong drink. I was trying to calm myself as the adrenalin was still racing through my body from backing the three wheeled trailer with a 4000lb boat attached off the trailer. 

A short while later I get a text from my Best Bud J3.

J3: Were you pulled over by a cop while towing the boat today on the side of the highway?
YT: Pulled over, no... had a blown bearing. Thx for stopping lol
J3: We were going the other way and I said I think that’s Coop. I asked the wife if we should turn around and she said “No way, F him”
YT: Yeah, she always says that and I’m more than happy to oblige
J3: you MF!

Miss Cindy Texts me shortly thereafter
MC: Don’t believe J3, I told him we should turn around.
YT: No problem, nothing you guys could have done anyway. Ask him what I just texted him.
MC: he told me!  ;-)

So I guessed that answered question #1.

The potential danger and damage that could have been done to life and property fortunately was avoided only by the grace of god and gravity. Had I lost the wheel at highway speed that situation could have gone from a nice Saturday in July & I can’t wait to hit the boardwalk to ohmygodtheshithasjusthitthefan . I count my blessings that it ended in just some rattled nerves from backing off the flat bed. Remember folks, never go faster than your guardian angel can fly...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Overheard at the Homestead

I'm literally walking out the door for work this morning and #1 stops me. He has this concerned look on his face.

#1:  Dad, does your face hurt?
Yours Truly: No, why do you ask?
#1: because its killing me !

which brought giggles galore from The Pink One & #1... 

YT: You guys thinks that's funny?
TPO:  yeah... he got you daddy!
YT: You guys realize that I'm off for the next 4 days... That's a lot of time for payback!
TPO: #1 did it, not me!

OK, I can see what kind of a weekend we are going to have... I'm sure glad I found that stash of water balloons over the weekend.

Enjoy your 4th of July Holiday Weekend folks and stay safe!